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Steve Ells' next venture is robot-run restaurants.

Chipotle founder Steve Ells’ robot restaurant startup scores NFL star investors

Plant-based automated restaurant Kernel is backed by the quarterbacks for the New York Giants and Chicago Bears and will open soon on Feb. 12

Chipotle founder Steve Ells’ semi-automated, plant-based restaurant, Kernel — which raised $36 million in Series A funding last summer — has received some superstar investors and an official opening date. New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones and Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (the latter is a known strict vegetarian) have received equity stakes in Kernel in exchange for their monetary investments in the budding company, according to The New York Post.

“[I am] thrilled to have an amazing group of investors who have been supportive of the great work that the team has done to bring Kernel to life,” Ells said in a statement acquired by The New York Post. “I’m proud to have them on board to achieve our shared vision for delicious food served in a novel, planet-friendly way,”

With two high-profile investors on board, Kernel is one step closer to fruition, and even now has an opening date and location. The first Kernel storefront will open at 315 Park Ave South on Feb. 12 in New York City’s Flatiron District. According to Eater, Kernel is on track to open 15 locations over the next two years. Each restaurant will feature a meat-free, though otherwise traditional fast-food menu and a kitchen/storefront run mostly by robots with a maximum of three human employees per location.

According to teaser images released on Kernel’s social media pages, Kernel will focus on selling house-made plant-based sandwiches, particularly vegan chicken sandwiches, as well as mindfully healthy sides like a cucumber salad. Kernel’s Instagram also implies that the company will be going all-in on technology, with not just robots preparing orders, but also a modernized in-house operating system.

Of course, Kernel will have to deal with competitors in New York like Remy Robotics-run Better Days cooking up a similar fast-fine concept run mostly by robots. The plant-based quick-service space is also quickly becoming one of the most crowded in the industry, with New York City-based Neat Burger and PLNT Burger already establishing a foothold in the area.

Representatives for Kernel and Ells did not respond to requests for comment or further detail.

Contact Joanna at [email protected]

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